• GE Healthcare (Waukesha, Wisconsin) reported the planned installation of its new Discovery PET/CT 600-series scanners, designed to help enable earlier detection and accurate monitoring of disease combined with the latest advancements in molecular imaging technology to explore the development of future applications. The first clinical installs will be completed at Miami Baptist Hospital in Florida, University Hospital of Bichat (Paris), Queensland X-Ray at the Mater Hospital (Brisbane, Australia), Duke University Medical Center (Durham, North Carolina), and the Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minnesota). "This first set of installations is a big step forward in the diagnosis and monitoring of disease," said Terri Bresenham, newly appointed vice president/general manager of the company's global Molecular Imaging business. "Partnering with clinics in the U.S., Europe and the Asia/Pacific tegion, we will be able to reach more patients globally with the latest advancements in oncology, neurology, and cardiovascular technologies." The new PET/CT line of PET/CT scanners combine advanced molecular imaging tools with the large-coverage, low-dose Volume CT, helping allow for earlier diagnosis, more accurate tumor location and better assessment of how a patient is responding to cancer treatment. Although mostly for use in oncology, PET/CT can also be used for assisting the diagnosis of cardiovascular disease and neurological conditions.

HepaLife Technologies (Boston) said it plans for a new pivotal Phase III clinical trial in the U.S. for its cell-based bioartifical liver system, the HepaMate. As an extracorporeal cell-based bioartificial liver system, HepaMate is designed to combine blood detoxification with liver cell therapy to provide whole liver function in patients with the most severe forms of liver failure. Liver cells detoxify existing toxins, produce albumin and other liver-specific proteins. A patented liver cell cryopreservation process provides for safe and easy storing and distribution, a significant logistic and commercial advantage. During therapy, the patient's plasma is separated from whole blood, exposed to the HepaMate bioartificial liver and returned to the patient. HepaMate is comprised of a blood plasma separation cartridge, a hollow-fiber bioreactor filled with proprietary porcine liver cells, a charcoal column, an oxygenator, circuit tubing and a plasma reservoir. These components are assembled into a patented blood/plasma circulation system, which is placed on the HepaDrive perfusion platform.

• Immersion (San Jose, California), a developer of touch feedback technology, reported the availability of new carotid intervention training modules for its CathLabVR surgical simulator. The new modules provide multi-modal (sight, sound and touch) virtual reality training for carotid angioplasty and stenting (CAS). Powered by Immersion's programmable high-fidelity haptic feedback, the modules provide lifelike simulation of an actual CAS procedure outside the operating room where doctors can practice and perfect their skills at this sophisticated technique prior to performing it on a live patient. "Realistic touch feedback is the future of medical simulation," said Daniel Chavez, senior VP/GM of Immersion's medical line of business. "As newer, less-invasive life-saving procedures become commonplace, the need for highly effective, lifelike training for these challenging procedures is rising." Catheter-based endovascular procedures like carotid angioplasty and stenting can be the best approach to prevention for some at-risk patients, but these procedures require intensive training and many procedures to perfect. Immersion said haptic-enabled simulation "gives clinicians the ability to learn and maintain these skills without the use of animals or human cadavers and without the cost or risk of training during an actual procedure."

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